PICTURE by Richard Gregson.
IN THE fifth edition of this ongoing series, I feature the team of a man who has played at the highest level of football in Wales during a great career.
Mark Thomas, affectionately known as Cabbage, has enjoyed a playing career which has spanned more than two decades and seen him score over a century of goals (whilst being a midfielder/striker).
Down the years, he has played for Bangor City, Rhayader Town, Porthmadog and Caernarfon Town (in the top-flight), Cemaes Bay and Glantraeth in the Cymru Alliance, as well as Llangoed, Trearddur Bay, Cefni and Arriva Bangor in the lower leagues.
Now 42 years old, Thomas was player-manager at Llangoed last season as he helped turn the club’s season around and guided them to an eighth place finish in a very strong Gwynedd League before departing in late 2020.
He has based this great team off of players he both played alongside and watched from the stands at Farrar Road.
GOALKEEPER – Phil Priestley
Mark says: “I’ve always thought that a goalkeeper should play more like an outfield player where possible and be good with his feet.
“When I played for Bangor City and I made my debut there he really opened my eyes, he was great with his feet and could kick the ball so far up the field effortlessly – he was a bit like Ederson is for Man City now.”
RIGHT BACK – Clayton Blackmore
Mark says: “When I first started with Bangor, Clayton took me under his wing – I just have been about 19 or 20 years old at the time.
“To think that he played at such a high level (for Manchester United and Wales), he was the type of player who never judged anyone. He was no ‘Big Time Charlie’.
“I really learnt a lot from my time playing in the same team as him.”
CENTRE BACK – Harry Wiggins
Mark says: “This is a player I watched play for Bangor and someone who made playing the game look so easy even at such a high level.
“He was with Bangor the first time they won the League of Wales I believe. A solid player.”
CENTRE BACK – Warren Gibbs
Mark says: “He was my captain for a great part of my career and was a fantastic leader.
“A great man on and off the pitch as well.”
LEFT BACK – Gary Lloyd
Mark says: “A player who was just ‘different gravy’, he really was.
“I played against him a few times and he just always seemed to have so much time on the ball at left back, he created space well for himself. Brilliant player and a brilliant clubman.”
HOLDING MID – Dave Barnett
Mark says: “Another player who was a fantastic player for Bangor City in the League of Wales.
“He was a great leader and another one who I watched in complete awe.”
CENTRE MID – Nigel Barry
Mark says: “The best player I’ve played alongside and against hands down. I wouldn’t have reached the heights I did without him for Glantraeth.
“He wasn’t the best player technically but he was someone who would never stop working hard and left it all out on the pitch.”
Nigel’s son Cameron is now a star for Bangor 1876. The 17-year-old scored 10 goals from midfield for the club as they won the Gwynedd League in 2019/20.
RIGHT MID – Simon Davies
Mark says: “Another Bangor City player who I’ll always remember for his quality. I’d say he’s the best I’ve ever seen play.
“He was another one who was at Man United once upon a time.”
Davies is now a coach with Belgian Pro League side Anderlecht and briefly managed the club in 2019.
LEFT MID – Les Davies
Mark says: “I played alongside him at Glantraeth and you could tell he was going to go on to do fantastic things in the game.
“It wasn’t long before Bangor City came calling for him as he was unstoppable.”
STRIKER – Marc Lloyd Williams
Mark says: “I’m sure I don’t even need to justify this one really, as it needs no explaining!
“Record goalscorer in the top-flight and a special player.”
‘Jiws’ as he’s known scored 319 goals in just 468 appearances in the top-flight and also holds the record for the most goals scored in a single season – notching 47 goals in 34 matches for Bangor City in 2001/02.
STRIKER – Matthew Tipton
Mark says: “A player who I grew up playing alongside for Maes-Y-Bryn in Bangor. One of the best strikers I’ve ever seen.
“He was so good that he’d just score for fun at junior levels.”
Mark says: “A player who I got to know through college and one who I’d always pick for my team.”
Mark says: “Another player who I played alongside at junior level who never actually went on to play senior football. He was a great leader and a person I have a lot of respect for.”
Mark says: “A lot of people consider Rich Boded to have been one of the best around on Anglesey. A centre back who made me realise that you have to be tough to play football, as he kicked me around everywhere when I played against him. A gentleman off the field though!”